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DeSantis Is Ascendant and Cuomo Is Faltering

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That’s left Democrats facing charges of hypocrisy when it comes to Mr. Cuomo, who is now accused of sexually harassing several younger women. While Mr. Cuomo has few defenders, many powerful New York Democrats, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are pushing for an independent investigation rather than an immediate resignation. The allegations have left his party divided between those who believe he must leave office and others who worry that the party is eating its own by cleaving to a standard Republicans largely ignore.

It doesn’t help that before this current scandal, Mr. Cuomo was already under investigation for allegedly manipulating statistics on deaths of nursing home residents during the pandemic — chipping away at his image as a masterful manager of the virus and the Democratic brand of good governance. Once sailing toward a fourth term as governor, Mr. Cuomo is now fighting for his political career. His approval ratings have fallen nearly 30 points from last May.

Yet, for both men, their political fortunes and the tests imposed by their parties seem disconnected from the central question of this moment: Did they effectively govern their states through an extraordinarily challenging year?

The data is fairly inconclusive. When adjusted for population, Florida has a lower rate of deaths than New York, including at long-term care facilities like nursing homes, but a higher rate of cases over all, and it leads the country in the number of cases of the more contagious and deadlier U.K. variant of the virus. Slightly more Floridians — 8.7 percent of the population — than New Yorkers have received two doses of a Covid vaccine, but nearly the same percentage of the population in both states has received the first dose.

Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story. New York was the epicenter of the country’s first wave, before doctors had the equipment, experience and medications to fight a new disease. States like Florida learned from New York. Yet, for all Mr. Cuomo’s efforts to use his platform to stop the spread of the disease, he resisted early calls for lockdowns — a delay that undeniably played a role in the high death toll.

About a year into the pandemic, Mr. Cuomo has fallen from his perch as a liberal icon. Mr. DeSantis has ascended to conservative stardom. And New Yorkers and Floridians are still mourning, masking and waiting for brighter days.

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